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Month: April 2017

Barrel the Pig, Tigger the Steer, and Justin the Pony

I showed a pig for the first time in 1985 at the Hancock County Fair in Findlay, Ohio. It was the open barrow show and I had been given a pig earlier in the summer to check on each evening and claim for my own. I was two and a half years old and couldn’t really pronounce “barrow” so I referred to my pig as “barrel” and that became its name – Barrel the Pig. I don’t remember this myself, of course, but this is how my parents tell it. At the fair, my uncle helped me show my barrow, which is likely to say that I followed my uncle around the ring. Barrel the Pig was named champion and later on, perhaps my favorite photograph of my life is taken of my dad and me and Barrel the Pig. A fun beginning to what would become an almost twenty-year, life-shaping experience. I can’t take any credit for Barrel the Pig’s success, but it was a fun starting point from which I grew and learned how to raise and show pigs. In those early years, I had a lot to learn. In fact, while I became an adequate showman later on, I initially had a really difficult time grasping some basic showmanship skills as a novice. The first time I clipped a pig was a less than stellar performance. It took a few years before I found a good system for walking pigs each day around the farm. In every…

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Big rewards from small projects: King Chicken goes to Denver

A few years ago, my oldest niece, Sophie, who lives in Colorado with her family, acquired her first chicken. To say she fell in love would be the understatement of the decade. In late 2015, I was out visiting her and her younger sister on their little farm on the Front Range. She had just turned six years old then and was already a chicken expert. Soon after I arrived on my visit, I was given a full tour of the farm and introduced to every animal on it – by name and with a full description of its breed, sex, current gestation status, and health condition. But the chickens held a special place in Sophie’s heart. Many little girls would ask for a variety of items for birthday gifts related to princesses and toys, but not Sophie. Sophie asks for new chickens to add to her flock. When her family traveled to our house for Christmas this past year, she brought along one of her Christmas gifts – an illustrated guide to poultry breeds. Needless to say, she loves caring for and learning about chickens. Sometime last year, she exhibited at her first show – a local jackpot. She had a great time, really enjoyed sharing her knowledge with the judges, and learned a lot about showing. So earlier this year when I heard she was getting ready to head to another show, I was excited she was going to get to experience that again. I soon found out she…

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